Respectful Science: Transitioning towards a respectful custodianship of our oceans and coasts

Organizer: Anja Scheffers
Format: Onsite-Online, Afternoon

This interdisciplinary session convened by Future Earth Coasts explores futures of probabilities and possibilities of nature and people living where land and ocean realms meet. A coast’s very nature is often premised on biophysical or legislative boundaries that measure its watery ambit from the foreshore to inland. Still, coasts elude a final, clearly defined, and uncontroversial description. As a result, they inhabit a liminal space, one that is at the same time geographically bounded, yet metaphorically transcendent, physically shifting, and culturally porous. Organizations globally are aiming to implement actions to reduce human impacts, and achieve resilient and sustainable coasts. There remains a need to create roadmaps and tools that enable organizations to co-design these coastal futures through partnerships and knowledge-exchange approaches. The future may be understood either as the outcome of processes that can be planned, calculated, measured, modelled, and managed in the present (‘future of probabilities’), or in terms of imaginations, visions, aspirations and political discourses that have an influence on decision making and future-oriented practices (‘future of possibilities’). Our topics engage with our oceans and coasts as complex ‘lifeworlds’. This relational, ancient, and ultimately environmentally urgent bond forms the prism through which theoretical and practical sustainability capabilities of different disciplines and knowledge systems are told – from ecological jurisprudence, Indigenous environmental resource management and cultural conceptions, strengths and resilience of coastal communities, trauma and healing, and the consequential nitty-gritty of coastal governance. The future of living at coasts and with a changing ocean is open – for transformation, surprise, hope, fear, speculation and contentious visions of how the future may look like. This is an opportunity to engage in questions whose future the different voices are referring to, who produces visions of the future, and how these visions maybe put into practice from different actors.

Themes: Knowledge-to-Action, Sustainability for Who?